Florida State University

Florida State suspends former Miami Central star Dalvin Cook for allegedly punching a woman

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook answers questions during media for the Rose Bowl on Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, in Los Angeles.
Florida State running back Dalvin Cook answers questions during media for the Rose Bowl on Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, in Los Angeles. AP

Former Miami Central star and Florida State running back Dalvin Cook was suspended indefinitely Friday after becoming the latest Seminoles football player to allegedly resort to violence against women.

The state attorney’s office issued an arrest warrant for Cook late Friday afternoon after he allegedly punched a 21-year-old woman in the face several times following an argument outside of a Tallahassee bar around 2 a.m. on June 23.

The incident involving Cook, 19, comes less than a week after former FSU quarterback De’Andre Johnson was dismissed from the team after he punched a woman at a different bar near the Florida State campus on June 24. The state attorney’s office released surveillance video showing Johnson punching an FSU student in the face.

Assistant state attorney Georgia Cappleman said the incident involving Cook was not captured on video, but she said state attorney Willie Meggs met with the victim and a witness Friday and decided to approve the warrant because he found their story credible.

Cook’s accuser, who identified him in a photo lineup with Tallahassee police investigators on July 1, reportedly presented Meggs photos of her injuries. Cook will be charged with misdemeanor battery, Cappleman said.

NO TOLERANCE

FSU president James Thrasher said in a statement released Tuesday the school would have “no tolerance” for incidents like the one that occurred with Johnson, and he expected athletes to “adhere to the highest level of conduct.”

“Recent events at Florida State University involving members of my football team have brought a lot of attention to the school and program,” coach Jimbo Fisher wrote in a statement released by the school. “It is important to me that our fans and the public be aware that I do not tolerate the type of behavior that was captured on video and that was most recently alleged. We spend a good deal of time educating our student-athletes about appropriate behavior and their responsibilities as representatives of Florida State. The majority of our players are exemplary, but clearly we must place an even stronger emphasis on this, and I personally promise we will.

“I remain committed to educating our young men and holding them accountable for their actions. ... We will do better. I will not tolerate anything less.”

FSU's athletic program and the Tallahassee Police Department have been under heavy criticism for giving preferential treatment to athletes who have had run-ins with the law.

A recent report by ESPN's Outside The Lines showed Florida State had the second-highest number of NCAA athletes named in criminal allegations (66 men's basketball and football players), according to court records from 2009 to 2014. In 70 percent of those incidents, the athletes never faced charges, had charges against them dropped or were not prosecuted. Other college-aged males in Tallahassee over that same span had their cases prosecuted 50 percent of the time.

In April 2014, the New York Times detailed how poorly Tallahassee police and the state attorney's office handled the rape case involving Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in this spring's NFL Draft. Winston was accused of raping an FSU freshman but was never prosecuted after Tallahassee police did not bring the case to light for nearly a year. Meggs acknowledged a number of shortcomings in the investigation.

In this case involving Cook, police released a heavily redacted incident report, but did not list Cook by name and listed not only the victim's name and phone number, but her home address as well.

Calls to the Tallahassee Police Department's Public Information office by The Miami Herald were not immediately returned. Neither were calls to Cook and his former high school coach Roland Smith.

Cook was the state’s Mr. Football Award winner in 2013 after leading the Rockets to a state title. Last season, the 6-foot, 203-pound Cook set an FSU freshman rushing record after leading the team with 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. Earlier this week, he was named to the Maxwell Award watch list, presented annually to college football’s best player.

THE DETAILS

According to the police incident report, the woman who was allegedly punched by Cook was intoxicated. She told police she was approached by a man among a group of five to seven FSU players outside of Clyde’s and Costello’s shortly after the bar closed.

According to Leon County court records, the woman said the unidentified man, who was not Cook, asked for her phone number. She refused to give it to him, saying she had a boyfriend. The victim, who is not an FSU student, told police Cook came over and tried to calm the situation down. But after the victim shoved FSU receiver Travis Rudolph away, she said Cook began swinging at her.

“They kept telling me they were football players,” the alleged victim told ESPN.com. “They kept telling me to Google them. They told me they were football players and they could buy me in two years.”

Police described the alleged victim as having a bloody lip and dirt on her left knee. She told police the punches by Cook knocked her back against a black Jeep parked on the roadway.

Cook has a prior history of run-ins with the law.

He was named in a 2014 aggravated assault case after two men he was with were alleged to have brandished a handgun at a neighbor. Cook was charged with criminal mischief and completed a diversion program this summer, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

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